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Monday, April 11, 2016

Fired for Jesus

Perusing the news, we find some odd things of late. For instance, did you know that it is unconstitutional to be allowed to work? Apparently, at least in Wisconsin, it is a constitutional right for businesses and unions to reach agreements that require all workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. Who would have thought? Businesses and unions have rights. Workers don't. Or how about this one? China, leading the world in executions, as it turns out favors Donald Trump for President. Is that a good thing?

This one, though, might get your ire up. The story goes that Indiana State Police Officer Brian Hamilton was "fired after asking drivers he pulled over if they had been saved by Jesus Christ." It was the second complaint. The first was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union because, after all, "Freedom of Religion" is fast on its way out as an American civil liberty. As it turns out, Officer Hamilton had been ordered back in 2014 not to "question others regarding their religious beliefs nor provide religious pamphlets or similar advertisements" while on duty. Officer Hamilton did not abide by that order.

I'd like to point out a couple of misconceptions here, not to those about whom the story is written or those who think Mr. Hamilton was in the wrong, but to those Christians who are concerned or even outraged. First, it is not true that Hamilton was fired for preaching the Gospel. Mr. Hamilton was fired for violating the 2014 order. He was fired for failing to follow the requirements of his superiors. That is a viable and legal reason to fire someone. Oh, and note, when the Apostles were beaten for failing to follow the commands of the Sandhedrin, they didn't file a countersuit or go to court to right that wrong. "They went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name." (Acts 5:41) I would be pleasantly surprised to hear that Brian Hamilton is rejoicing that he had been considered worthy to suffer shame for Jesus's name.

One other point. There is no question that we are commanded to share the Gospel. When the Apostles were ordered to stop sharing the Gospel, they responded, "We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29) However, there is a difference between what the Council ordered the Apostles to do (not do) and what the Indiana State Police ordered Brian Hamilton to not do. Mr. Hamilton was told not to share the Gospel on duty. The Apostles were ordered to cease and desist sharing the Gospel at all. So I'll leave it to you to consider. Does the command to share the Gospel require that we do it at all times in all situations regardless of the instructions of the authority over us? Or is it only the command to stop sharing the Gospel at all that we would necessarily need to ignore? I ask because I suspect that most of us are not in the habit of sharing the Gospel everywhere we go. So if you think that the officer was right in disobeying his superiors because the command is to share Jesus everywhere and you are not doing so, you are sinning, are you not? Either it is not a blanket order that requires us always and everywhere to share the Gospel and the state was justified in restricting him from sharing on duty, or it is a blanket order for Christians and most of us are failing. You decide.

In our current climate where our society is taking a dimmer view of religious freedom, at least for Christians, and it looks like our "rights will be violated" more and more, it's easy to jump at a story like this as an example of why we need to fight. I would suggest that this is not our calling. Our calling is to love God and love our neighbors, to model and share Christ, to make disciples. Not force the culture to accede to our demands. Jesus didn't do it. Peter and Paul didn't do it. The New Testament Church didn't do it. I'd suggest we take another lesson from this story rather than a call to fight. Now, maybe it's a call to pray (1 Tim 2:1-2).


Josh said...

Thanks for this post Stan. The more I read your blog the more I respect you as a Christian man. It is easy to get offended about any "supposed action" against Christianity, but it takes wisdom to see this situation for what it is.

I would assume by his actions that officer Hamilton would consider it a privilege to be fired for obeying his call to share the gospel.

Stan said...

I would hope he would, Josh. It's just that too many of the Christians I know or have read about prefer to take it to court as a matter of outrage, an assault on their constitutional rights. What I hear expressed in churches and conversations with Christians is "We've got to fight!", not "Thank you, Jesus."

David said...

If he didn't take it to court, he'd be the exception, not the rule, unfortunately.

By the way, isn't lumping China's execution rate with support of Trump an ad hominem? Just because they execute the most people doesn't necessarily mean that are wrong about him. I mean, they are, but not because they have the highest execution rate (which would stand to reason since they are the most populace country, it would be like saying most arrests in Compton are on black people, of course there are, there are more black people in Compton than any other race).

Stan said...

I'm not sure it's an ad hominem. I think it's a non sequitur. "China leads the world in executions (because, after all, they have the largest population), so it reflects badly on Trump." Nope. Doesn't follow. But I will point out that it was their argument, not mine.

David said...

I guess it would depend on your view of execution. Execution allowed, non-sequitor, execution evil, ad hominem? If someone were trying to say that China's evil practice of execution makes Trump a bad choice by their backing, maybe?

Just practicing my false logic identification.

Stan said...

Sure, I suppose that would work. "Execution is evil. They support execution. They support Trump. Trump must be evil." But I'd still say that the conclusion doesn't follow the premises.

David said...

On top of that, according to the article, it is young Chinese people that like him, not the government that's doing the executions, so the reasoning is even further away. Typical propaganda, catch them with their emotions and they'll turn off their brains.

Stan said...

That, it has been said, is where conservatives are losing. They try to make rational arguments while liberals make emotional arguments. Emotional arguments typically trump (no pun intended) rational ones.